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Lion’s Mane and Oral Health

In the arena of natural health we are currently experiencing a double renaissance of sorts, functional mushrooms and the microbiome and health. While mushrooms have been utilized traditionally in some cases for thousands of years it has only been in the last decade or so that the West has started to take them seriously, consumers, practitioners, and researchers have all begun to acknowledge their potential in health and healing. On the other hand, the microbiome is more of a recent “discovery”. But just as it is with mushrooms, the last decade has seen a growing interest and increase in research with regards to microbiome health and its broad impact on other parts of the body. Both have seen the scope of their impact on the human body broadly diversified, for mushrooms, it used to be all about immune health, for the microbiome, it was focused on digestive health.

Thanks to this growing body of research on the microbiome we now know that our ancestors had it right when they said, “disease starts in the gut”. Not only does disease start in the gut, but conversely, health start in the gut as well. Studies have found that a healthy microbiota is connected to a healthy immune system (particularly relevant for auto-immune imbalances), cardiovascular health (impacting healthy lipid levels and atherosclerosis), central nervous system and brain health, and even mental health, with some psychiatric conditions associated with different bacteria species. Diseases that appear to be significantly connected to our microbiota balance include:

  • Rheumatoid arthritis*
  • Colorectal cancer*
  • Obesity*
  • Diabetes*
  • IBS/IBD*
  • Eczema/psoriasis*
  • Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease*
  • Allergies*
  • Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease*

So while the vast majority of the estimated 100 trillion microbiota inhabit our gut, their impact is far reaching. However, the micro-organisms are not solely located in our gut, they are found throughout the body. (see diagram)

Mushrooms, likewise, have a diverse and amazing array of benefits supporting the healthy function of every system, organ, and cell in the body. They are long used tonic remedies that support overall health and vitality, as well as impacting all aspects of our body. You can read more about some of these benefits in other blog posts. Functional mushrooms make wonderful health allies due to their specific targeted actions combined with their overall adaptogenic and vitality supporting activities. For example, Reishi mushroom, which I listed over one hundred research-based specific applications for a recent presentation, is also, in this author’s opinion, one of the top health tonics of all time.*

Lion’s Mane and the Microbiome

Lion’s Mane mushroom is a good example of a remedy that had an initial narrow focus, in this case, its use for brain and nerve function, only to have later research explore a broader array of benefits, from immune to anti-oxidant to cardiovascular, and recently, to supporting a healthy microbiome. In fact, it has been theorized that at least some of the brain and immune benefits of Lion’s Mane’s may be due to its positive effects on the gut microbiome. One study on Lion’s Mane found that it significantly changed the structure of the gut microbiota along with acting as a prebiotic, e.g. food for the micro-organisms. A human clinical study found that Lion’s Mane increased the number of “good” bacteria, upregulating some short-chain fatty acid producing bacteria, which is key to many of their health supporting gifts within just 7 days. And a third study showed that some of Lion’s Mane’s immune improving action was by means of regulating the composition and metabolism of gut microbiota. So fundamentally Lion’s Mane appears to be encouraging a healthy balance of microbiota while also acting as a food source for the micro-organisms.*

Lion’s Mane and the Oral Microbiome

The mouth is another area that the microbiota plays a key role in maintaining a healthy state. There are several hundred species of bacteria that reside in our mouth, only a few of which cause disease. One important impact of the oral microbiome is seen when disruptions or imbalances occur, they can contribute to oral diseases, particularly gingivitis. Taking into account previous research that demonstrated that Lion’s Mane has anti-bacterial activity along with its ability to support a healthy microbiome, researchers looked at whether or not it might play a helpful role in maintaining a healthy balanced oral microbiome. This study looked at several mushrooms’ ability to support a healthy oral microbiome and found that Lion’s Mane powder significantly inhibited the growth of Porphyromonas gingivalis in a growth dependent manner. P. gingivalis is a bacterium that causes gingivitis and periodontitis. What they also found was that it did not significantly inhibit Streptococcus gordoni, the dominant bacteria in the mouth. S. gordoni and other Streptococcus sp. inhibit growth of “bad” or pathogenic bacteria. It also helps raise the pH of an acidic mouth, a state which creates conditions for cavities. The researchers concluded that Lion’s Mane seems to selectively inhibit the “bad” bacteria without interfering with the “good” bacteria”, supporting a healthy microbiota balance.*

Introducing Lion’s Mane Oh My!™

As a result of this study Mushroom Wisdom is happy to announce the development of a new product, Lion’s Mane Oh My!. These quick dissolving mint flavored tablets produced with organic ingredients are made from the fruiting body and are meant to be held in the mouth until they have fully dissolved. This new product is the perfect ally for supporting a healthy oral microbiome while freshening the breath. Lion’s Mane Oh My! is a novel way to naturally support your brain, immunity, and microbiome health and function.*

Ichikawa H, Kawai J, Mori K (2021) Hericium erinaceus powder inhibits the growth of Porphyromonas gingivalis. Open J Bac 5(1): 017-020. DOI: 10.17352/ojb.000020

*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

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